Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Those Dang Britons!

Hugh Thomson has a fascinating article on early agriculture in Bronze Age Britain. The record shows that much of "England" was cleared by 1000 BC (I'm not certain if this includes Wales, Scotland or Ireland . . . and my guess would be no as those areas possess slightly more rugged terrain). Those ancient forests that pre-date the dawn of time just aren't accurate. It takes only a few centuries for a forest to regrow, weeding out smaller trees and become "old growth"; it would seem that Enland's old growth came after the Romans.

 The myth panders to our need for a sense of loss. There is an undercurrent of regret running through our history. A nostalgia for what could have been: the unicorn disappearing into the trees; the loss of Roman Britain; the loss of Albion; the loss of Empire. We are forever constructing prelapsarian narratives in which a golden sunlit time — the Pax Romana, the Elizabethan golden age, that Edwardian summer before the First World War, a brief moment in the mid-1960s with the Beatles — prefigure anarchy and decay. Or the cutting down of the forest.

Read the whole article.


Paul Thornton said...

Not sure if you'll be able to watch it where you are, but the BBC has a great show at the moment on Viking history. Well worth a watch.

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I'll track it down somewhere. I love me some vikings!

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